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Declamationes maiores


Pseudo-Quintilian; author
Sinibaldi, Antonio da Carmignano di Francesco; scribe
; production
; production


Frank McClean


illuminated manuscript


other; type of text


circa 1480 circa 1485


fifteenth century, fourth quarter


PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Parchment, iii modern parchment flyleaves + iii sixteenth-century parchment flyleaves + xi blank parchment leaves + 209 fols. + iii modern parchment flyleaves, 277 x 180 mm (160 x 97 mm), 24 long lines, ruled in hard point, catchwords, alphabetical quire marks, one leaf missing before fol. 1 and another after fol. 8.

BINDING: Late nineteenth or early twentieth century, light brown skin over wooden boards, blind-tooled with floral motifs, gilt edges, by Joseph William Zaehnsdorf (1853-1930), London.

CONTENTS: fols. 2r-207r Pseudo-Quintilian, Declamationes maiores, with some argumenta, in the following order: 2, 1, 8, 13-19, 3-11

ORNAMENTATION: Thirty-one faceted initials [4-6 ll.] in gold and colour on square bas-relief grounds of dark blue, purple, green or red, each painted with classicising motifs (armour, mythical beasts and sea creatures, nudes and heads, flowers) in liquid gold or silver, and each accompanied by a single-sided border consisting of floral and classical elements (garlanded bull’s heads, portrait roundels, putto’s heads, crossed shields), the whole on shredded grounds of green, purple or red (fols. 3v, 22v [2], 35v, 36r, 53v [2], 64v [2], 71r, 79v [2], 97r [2], 107r, 116v [2], 126r [2], 134r [2], 153v [2], 167v [2], 176v [2], 189v [2], 200v [2]); rubrics in pale red epigraphic capitals (not all executed).

Place (legacy):

Italy, production, region
Florence, place
Rome, place


Florence and Rome.


illumination; whole


parchment; support
gold; medium




bequeathed; 1904; McClean, Frank


Probably copied for Cardinal Giovanni d’Aragona (1456-1485); Mario Maffei of Volterra (1463-1537); his gift to Paulo Giovio (1485-1552) (painted panel on fol. ii verso: MARIVS MAFFEVS VOLATERRAN. HVNC LIBRVM PAVLLO IOVIO HISTORIARUM SCRIP ILLUSTR D.D.); by descent to Giovanni Batttista Giovio (1748-1814) (notes on fol. ii verso); purchased by Frank McClean (1837-1904) in 1892 from Ulrico Hoepli in Milan; his bequest, 1904.


McClean, Frank; previous owner
Hoepli, Ulrico; previous owner
Giovio, Giovanni Batttista; previous owner
Giovio, Paulo; previous owner
Maffei of Volterra, Mario; previous owner
Cardinal Giovanni d’Aragona; previous owner


The combination of Florentine scribe and classicising ornament point to the patronage of the Aragonese bibliophile, Cardinal Giovanni d’Aragona (1456-1485), a crucial figure in the introduction of all’antica art to the royal court in Naples (this manuscript is listed as ‘possibly or probably’ from his library in de la Mare 1984, 277, no. 35, but is not listed in Haffner 1997). The presence of the Cardinal’s emblem of the burning lamp (in the border of fols. 71r and 116v) confirms de la Mare’s suggestion. The scribe, Antonio Sinibaldi (1443-before 1528), whose colophon has been erased on fol. 207r, copied several manuscripts for Giovanni d’Aragona (de la Mare 1985, 460). The Cardinal seems to have employed only three ‘classicising’ artists: Cristoforo Majorana, the Master of the London Pliny and Gaspare da Padova (Toscano in Padua 1999, 527-528), and scholarship has been divided on the question of which of those three artists is responsible for the illumination in this manuscript. Armstrong attributed it to the Master of the London Pliny (fols. 3v, 22v, 35v, 53v and 116v) and an assistant (Armstrong 1981, 136, no. 52; accepted by Marcon in Bollati 2004, 649), while de la Mare considered the work closer to that of Majorana, whom she considered to be imitating the Master of the London Pliny (de la Mare 1984, 261, 277). On the other hand, it seems that only Gaspare da Padova used the Cardinal’s emblem of the burning lamp. It may be significant that he collaborated with the scribe Antonio Sinibaldi on at least one other manuscript made for Giovanni d’Aragona, a Valerius Maximus (New York, NYPL, MS Spencer 20; London and New York 1994-1995, no. 41; Bentivoglio-Ravasio in Bollati 2004, 255; New York 2005-2006, no. 83), which also dates from 1480-1485, and was copied in Florence, where Sinibaldi resided from 1480 onwards, and illuminated by Gaspare da Padova in Rome. It is possible that the Fitzwilliam manuscript originally had a frontispiece as lavish as that in the New York Valerius Maximus on its now missing first leaf. The later provenance of the manuscript has been summarised by Ruysschaert (1958, 319, no. 3).


secundo folio; fol. 1r, originally the second folio; domus totus turbatur
secundo folio; fol. 2r; paulisper accommodasset


Splendours of Italian Illumination: Romanesque - Gothic - Renaissance. 1989 - 1990
Organiser: The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (Cambs.), UK
Venue: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Notes: unpublished handlist of an exhibition held in the Adeane gallery, October 1989 - February 1990
Catalogue number: 102


James, Montague Rhodes, Dr. 1912. A descriptive catalogue of the McClean Collection of Manuscripts in the Fitzwilliam Museum.Cambridge (Cambs.): Cambridge University Press
pp. 308-10, pl. XCV

Bollati, M.. 2004. Dizionario dei miniatori italiani.Milan: p. 649
Marcon in Bollati 2004

Armstrong, L.. 1981. Renaissance Miniature Painters and Classical Imagery: The Master of the Putti and his Venetian Workshop.London: Harvey Miller Publishers
p. 136, no. 52, fig. 108

de la Mare, A. C.. Questa, C.. Raffaelli, R.. 1984. The Florentine Scribes of Cardinal Giovanni of Aragon.Urbino:
Source Title: Il libro e il testo. Atti del Convegno Internazionale, Urbino, 20-23 Settembre 1982(1984) : 243-93

pp. 261, 277, no. 35

de la Mare, A. C.. Garzelli, A.. 1985. New Research on Humanistic Scribes in Florence.Florence:
Source Title: Miniatura fiorentina del Rinascimento 1440-1525: Un primo censimento I (1985) : 395-600
p. 486

Ruysschaert, José. 1958. Recherches des deux bibliothèques romaines Maffei des XVe et XVIe siècles.
Source Title: La Bibliofilia 60 (1958) : 306-355

p. 319, no. 3


Object Number: MS McClean 160
(Manuscripts and Printed Books)
(record id: 178385; input: 2010-11-04; modified: 2014-01-09)


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